Mad Libs With Jackie Chan And The Yellow Press

Last week, action movie star Jackie Chan gave a controversial speech to Chinese business leaders. What remarks caused such an uproar?

According to Associated Press reporter Min Lee, Jackie is “confused” about the value of “freedom” for his fellow Chinese people, and suggests that perhaps they should instead be “controlled”.

Technically, Jackie Chan never said any of this at the Boao Forum; his speech was not given in English. Thus, English-language reporters have the right–and responsibility–to reinterpret his words into an analogous cultural context.

What do you think after reading this speech excerpt?

I’m not sure whether it is good to have freedom. I am really confused. If our society is too free, it will become like Hong Kong, very chaotic…I am gradually beginning to feel that we Chinese need to be controlled.

Is Jackie Chan a simple-minded mouthpiece for totalitarian dictators, as some have charged? A wealthy racist gone senile? Before you answer that question, consider one alternate translation–this one provided with cultural, linguistic and historical context.

I’m not sure whether it is good to have freedom. I am really conflicted. If our society is lawless, it will become like Hong Kong, very disorderly…I am gradually beginning to feel that we Chinese need to be regulated.

Jackie Chan: The Prisoner

If Jackie Chan was a professional politician, rather than a stuntman-turned-actor, he would have called for “improved regulations, to rein in the excesses that threaten our society today.” And not only rich Chinese businessmen, but also most “freedom-loving” Americans would be applauding.

Maybe the real controversy is not about Jackie Chan’s views, but about our own? And maybe the Associated Press is right: that is a story nobody wants to hear.

8 comments on “Mad Libs With Jackie Chan And The Yellow Press”

  1. “Maybe the real controversy is not about Jackie Chan’s views, but about our own? And maybe the Associated Press is right: that is a story nobody wants to hear.”

    ~Indeed, I could not agree more. This story is getting a great deal of attention. Thanks for posting.

  2. Spot on. That’s what I was thinking when I heard about it.

    In addition, during my travels in China, I discovered that in some ways the totalitarian government is very weak. They have difficulty collecting taxes, and there is a very minimal police presence and involvement.

    Clearly, their food production industry needs better regulation. Why wasn’t that what he was talking about?

  3. Great article. Jay is correct, this was taken out of context, and translation was mangled. Jackie Chan is just the latest victim of western press’ anti China witch hunt. The Chinese gov has it’s share of problems like all other governments, but it seems now that China is finally trying to make progress and changes, the western press wants to make sure we see China as a backwards hell on earth type of place, and anyone who is pro China is lynched. Where was this type of articles back in the 70’s and 80’s? Remember the Japan bashing in the 80’s? and India outsource bashing in the 90’s? It seems the more things change, the more they stay the same.

  4. You should think twice about the point here.

    We in Taiwan (I’m caucasian long term resident) are very proud on the level of achieved and further developing (!) democracy.

    To call Taiwan and HKK chaotic means to praise the dictatorial communist regime in the PRC that doesn’t work in many ways, hurts not only Chinese (poisoned stuff etc.), but for sure surpresses or misuses a lot, even C(I)MA.

    Cheng Long is an idiot, his brains got too much hammered in all his stunts, and I even didn’t like most of his movies.

    But, of course, he can say what he wants…

  5. People with money and power want “stability” (to keep what they have), while the disenfranchised want “change”. This is to be expected, and is IMO unrelated to the PRC, democracy or freedom; those issues are just the canvas upon which this struggle is being repainted, for the billionth time.

    Jackie Chan has money and power.

    Frankly, I would have been surprised to hear him say anything else, in such a forum. What is surprising, is the fact that his comments are still appearing in US newspapers a week later. (This morning they reported a new twist: he apparently insulted Singapore too.)

    taiwandeutscher, how do you think the Chinese government is suppressing or misusing martial arts these days?

  6. Conflicted…that says it all. No need to listen to the man because he doesn’t know what he thinks yet. He leans toward totalitarian take-over, but isn’t sure. Hah.

    His weak position seems further distorted by the press.

  7. “I respect faith, but doubt is what gives you an education.”
    ~ Wilson Mizner

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